Aladdin review: a panto that puts parents through the wringer

Fathers beware: in the Tivoli panto there is nowhere to hide from Buffy Twanky

Tivoli Theatre, Dublin


Amid a blaze of jewel-coloured costumes, a burst of dancing whirls and a blast of Jai Ho, Aladdin appears – "I'm just Aladdin, like Madonna, Britney or Moses," Donal Brennan clarifies – and is soon joined by his principal people: unattainable, sweet-voiced Princess Jasmine (Nadia Forde); loyal, acerbic Sammy Sausages (Alan Hughes); and Buffy Twanky (Rob Murphy), queen of dames, with a big welcome for the boys and girls, the mammies and "especially the daddieeez", and a big promotion for her laundry, Buffy's Posh Wonder Wash. "What's your favourite powder?" she asks an unfortunate daddy, Vinny, before shaming his filthy trousers. "Oh, I'd say you'd like Bold, all right," she bellows, at which point she has the packed, intimate Tivoli in the palm of her rubber glove.

Karl Broderick's story is threaded with topical titbits, such as when evil Abbanazar (Carl Stallwood) wanders on to the stage having a row with Siri and the sat nav, which bring him to his destiny (rather than his destination). He grows into his badness as the story progresses, even threatening to build a wall for which the peasants will have to pay. Brian Dowling sparkles as the Genie, and the chemistry between the lead characters incites hilarious, whip-snappy exchanges about people getting their own catchphrase ("I swurrr on my fur") and whether you're allowed to talk through your nose on the telly. We don't know if it's part of Sean Gilligan's tight direction when there's a line-fluff and Sammy asks for a script – musical director Ross O'Connor ("a thick from Tallaght") barely interrupts his hard work to produce one on cue, with a broad grin– but it cracks us up.

And we marvel at the cast (including some very talented children and the show’s tireless choreographer, Paul Ryder) singing so well while dancing so impeccably, from full-on disco through tap and rap all the way to the perfectly timed mayhem of the lamp-retrieval. When the daddies are invited on stage, Buffy (in what could be her 10th costume of the night) laments that they don’t have to be dragged up to dance. And, Daddy Vinny, we’re sure you were wearing clean trousers.

Until January 22nd

Joyce Hickey

Joyce Hickey

Joyce Hickey, an Irish Times journalist, writes about homes and property